We stumbled upon Moalboal beach by chance when visiting Cebu and we are so glad we did! Jonas had just got out of hospital in Vietnam 8 days before and our Vietnamese doctor organised follow-up treatment and rehab with a doctor in Cebu city.
We knew our initial travel plans would need to be altered to allow time for him to recuperate so we started to research nice beaches areas with good snorkelling not too far from Cebu city. We stumbled across some forums that mentioned Moalboal, but back in early 2018, not a lot had been written on this sleepy village.
Initially, we planned to stay for one week but extended our stay to a month. The following year (early 2019) we returned for a two month stay to see a huge amount of growth and change. We had also planned on spending a couple of months there again last year but Covid-19 had different plans for us.
Read on to find out what keeps us coming back…
Introduction to Moalboal Beach Area in Cebu
Moalboal is a small seaside village / municipality located in the South West of Cebu Island, Philippines.
Map of Moalboal
Population of Moalboal
This Filipino municipality has a population of approximately 32,000, however, it is on the increase due to its popularity amongst expats and digital nomads.
How to Get from Cebu City to Moalboal Beach Area
The closest international airport to Moalboal is Cebu International Airport on Mactan Island which is approximately 100 kilometres to Moalboal city centre. From the airport, you have a number of transport options to get you to Moalboal Beach area, however, the easiest and fastest way is via a private transfer booked in advance. We have also caught the bus and this is a great, budget friendly option.
Our flights always arrive late in the evening so we take a taxi to Cebu city (250PHP / AUD$6 / USD$4.50), stay in a hotel overnight, and leave on the bus in the morning.
You will need to catch a Ceres Bus from the Cebu City South Bus Terminal bound for Moalboal via Barili or Badian. It will take approximately 3 to 4 hours (depending on traffic) and will cost 157PHP (AUD$4.20 / USD$3.30) for an air conditioned bus. Bus are scheduled to leave on the hour.
Once you arrive in Moalboal, you will have two options to get to Moalboal beach; either tricycle or habal-habal (motorbike taxi). A tricycle will cost approximately 100PHP (AUD$2.60 / USD$2) to 150PHP (AUD$3.90 / USD$3), whereas a habal-habal will cost 50PHP (AUD$1.30 / USD$1). The amount you pay will depend on how good your bargaining skills are.
Shared Van Transfer
A shared van transfer from the airport to Moalboal town proper will cost you approximately 800PHP (AUD$22 / USD$17) and take approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, again, depending on traffic. If you do choose this option, make sure you book ahead online prior to arrival at the airport.
How to Get Around Moalboal Beach Area
Getting around Moalboal is very easy if you stay near Panagsama Beach as most of what you will need is a short stroll away. However, if you want to visit some of the sights away from Panagsama Beach such as White Beach or Kawasan Falls, we highly recommend renting a motorbike / moped.
Motorbike rentals in Moalboal are easy to find and budget friendly. On average, expect to pay between 300PHP (AUD$7.80 / USD$6) to 400PHP (AUD$10.40 / USD$8) for the day. In 2019, we paid 6000PHP (AUD$150 / USD$120) for a monthly rental on a fully automatic Honda including helmets.
Tricycles are the most convenient and affordable transportation option in Moalboal and you will see them everywhere. Fares depend on how far you are going but be prepared to negotiate the price. They are available for short trips but are a great option for longer trips i.e. to White Beach or Kawasan Falls. For longer trips, we recommend negotiating a return price. Your driver will wait for you and be there at your drop-off point when you are finished.
Top Tip: Do not pay the driver when you arrive at your destination, but pay the full amount once you are back at Moalboal beach. This will ensure your driver is there waiting for you.
Best Time to Visit Moalboal Beach Area
There are two main seasons in Moalboal; a dry season (December – June) and a wet season (June – December). In saying this, Moalboal has relatively good weather throughout the year, and during the monsoon season, whilst it does get some rain, it is not as bad as many other parts of the Philippines.
The Summer months of March, April, and May are the best months to visit Moalboal as these tend to be dry, hot and sunny, with clear skies and warm waters, although be prepared for temperatures to reach as high as 35 degrees Celsius.
Most tourists that travel to Moalboal do so to enjoy activities such as snorkelling, diving and seeing the sardine run. To ensure the best in-water visibility and weather conditions, plan your visit between December and May.
Is Moalboal Safe?
Moalboal beach area is a safe destination and suitable for couples and family holidays. However, it is best to be cautious when walking along the main Panagsama Road as there is no footpath and cars / motorbikes tend to speed along there.
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance when travelling overseas. Insurance will cover important things like emergency medical hospitalisation / evacuation, baggage delays and trip cancellation. We recommend World Nomads for quality travel insurance you can trust, at affordable rates.
What Does the Moalboal Beach Area Have to Offer?
In our personal opinion, Moalboal is a great base for exploring the many things on offer in Cebu. The options for things to do in Moalboal and nearby are plentiful. Beautiful beaches, waterfalls, snorkelling, diving, hikes, a good range of bars and restaurants, and inexpensive boat excursions to Pescador Island.
Best Beaches In and Around Moalboal
1. Panagsama Beach
Panagsama Beach is the main beach in Moalboal and while not an ideal powdery white sand beach like others you may have seen in the Philippines, it is ideal for snorkelling.
2. Basdaku White Beach
White Beach, also known as Basdaku Beach, is the best beach in Moalboal. This beach has everything from soft white (more butter cream coloured really…) sand to the most amazing snorkelling we have done from the shore anywhere in the world.
Monthly Average Max / Min Water Temperatures
What To Do in Moalboal
1. Sardine Run
One of the top experiences you can do in Moalboal is the sardine run, and best of all, it is absolutely free!
2. Kawasan Falls
Kawasan Falls is one of Cebu’s most popular waterfalls (for good reason) and as such it can be very busy with locals and tourists. It is best known for its canyoneering but you do not have to do a canyoneering tour to visit the falls.
3. Pescador Island
Pescador Island is a famous marine park very close off the coast of Moalboal and is known for its exceptional diving and snorkelling.
4. Canyoneering in Badian
This adrenaline pumping adventure will have you walking, swimming, rappelling, climbing, cliff jumping, and enjoying natural waterslides in Badian, Cebu.
5. Snorkelling and Diving in Moalboal
Scuba diving and snorkelling is incredibly popular in this area due to the extensive marine life easily accessible just off the shore, the warm waters and good visibility.
6. Osmena Peak Sunrise Hike
Osmena Peak is the highest mountain in Cebu at 1013 metres above sea level, and is most popular for its sunrise hike. The summit of the Peak is known for its amazing panoramic views across cliffs and the ocean.
7. Montpellier Falls
Montpellier Falls is on the same road as Osmena Peak and it is the perfect accompaniment to a hike up the Peak.
8. Mantayupan Falls, Barili
Mantayupan Falls, also known as Ambakan Falls, is the highest waterfall in Cebu and said to be one of the most beautiful. The waterfalls are composed of two tiers: the first level is a 14 metre high fall and the second level is reached by crossing a suspension bridge to see the 98 metre waterfall.
9. Swimming With Whale Sharks in Oslob
Just one hour 15 minutes from Moalboal is Oslob where you can swim / snorkel with whale sharks.
This is a controversial activity for some, but if you would like more information on both sides of the argument, you can read our post on SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS HERE.
10. Aguinid Falls
If you are looking for an adventure, Aguinid Falls in Samboan are a must. These falls, split over five levels, are fast becoming a very popular tourist attraction and with good reason.
Shopping in Moalboal
There are limited shopping opportunities in Moalboal as the focus is on the experiences on offer. If you are looking for souvenirs, check out the stalls lining the beach road.
The best range of souvenirs, clothes, tech gear, sports equipment etc. can be found at Gaisano Grand mall (otherwise known as the ‘old Gaisano’ by locals) in Moalboal town proper. This mall has a large supermarket and McDonalds, and there is also a 7-Eleven very close by.
The ‘new Gaisano’ or Gaisano Town Centre is more modern and where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping.
Other options for fresh grocery items include the fruit market, and the fish and meat market.
If you are just looking for some snacks or drinks, sari-sari stores are everywhere and you should be able to find something to satisfy your craving.
Nightlife in Moalboal Beach Area
Due to the vast number of tourists visiting Moalboal, a good time can be had at a number of places including Chili Bar and Pacita’s Disco Bar (Saturday night is huge with the locals).
If karaoke is your thing, you are in the right place! Just listen for the ‘soothing’ sounds which may lead you to one of a number of establishments, or even to someone’s yard where the locals will accept you with wide open arms.
Where to Eat in the Moalboal Beach Area
Cafes and restaurants are in abundance everywhere in Moalboal. There are many places on the main road heading to Panagsama Beach and also on the beachfront main road. All tastes and dietary requirements are catered for and you can choose from tasty Filipino food to Japanese sushi plates, to fresh seafood, amazing chicken burgers and Italian pizzas.
Some of our favourites include:
- The Three Bears – We live very close by and this has become our all-time favourite place to eat when we are in Moalboal. They serve excellent Western food but their chicken burger is a taste sensation!!!
- Altrove – We first discovered this pizza restaurant in El Nido and we were so happy when we arrived back in Moalboal a year later to find it 100m from where we stay. This restaurant is a little more expensive than most, but their wood fired pizzas are fantastic!
- Mayim Beach Bar – Located off the main road at Panagsama, this beachfront restaurant offers a good range of items on its menu and all at a very good price. Definitely worth checking out!
- Chili Bar – Great place to enjoy a cocktail, a “Chili’ pizza and watch the sunset.
- Lantaw Restaurant – Located above Neptune dive shop, Lantaw serves some amazing food, but unfortunately, the service itself can be hit or miss. This is not the place to go if you are looking for food in a hurry, but if you have the time, the wait will be worth your while.
- Venz – This is the best place for Filipino cuisine such as classics like Sisig and Adobo.
- Shaka Café – The perfect way to start your day is by enjoying their smoothie bowls, fresh juices, and smoothies. They also do a great coffee!
Accommodation Options in Moalboal
Moalboal Beach Resorts
There are multiple accommodation options in Moalboal catering for tourists ranging from hostels to self-catering apartments. We recommend staying in the Panagsama Beach area of Moalboal as opposed to Moalboal town proper for easy access to the beach, bars and restaurants.
Luxury (US$100 and Up)
- Ancelle Cristo Re – Just 1 kilometre from Panagsama Beach, Ancelle Cristo Re offers a beachfront 3 bedroom house with a shared lounge, a garden and air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony and free WiFi.
- The Blue Orchid Resort – This beachfront resort is situated at White Beach and offers an outdoor pool and several water sport activities. Opening out to sea views, all rooms are comfortable with A/C and a private bathroom.
- Badian Island Wellness Resort – Located just off the coast of Moalboal on Zaragosa Island, this eco-friendly health resort offers a saltwater pool and organic garden, as well as many wellness activities to help you relax.
Mid-Range (US$30 to US$100)
- Tonga Hill Cottages – This eco-friendly property is unlike anything else in the area. Each private cottage has a terrace and partially open-air bathroom, and includes an amazing breakfast.
- Dolphin House Resort Moalboal – This beachfront resort encompasses a blend of traditional décor with modern facilities. Set in a great location, Dolphin House Resort offers clean and comfortable rooms with a pool.
- Pescadore Seaview Suites – This beachfront property offers superb ocean views, an outdoor pool and sun terrace. All room have A/C and include breakfast.
Budget (Up to $US30)
- Crazy Bears Hostel – This well reviewed and centrally located hostel provides adult-only accommodation with a restaurant, bar and garden. All rooms have A/C and you can choose from a private double room, or 8 or 10 bed mixed dormitory room.
- Island Girl Bed and Breakfast – Complete with a bar, shared lounge and BBQ facilities, this property offers a budget double room, or 4 or 6 bed mixed dormitory rooms.
- Roos Guest House – Located just 300 meters from Panagsama Beach, Roo’s Guesthouse has a garden and terrace, as well as a swimming pool. There are a number of private room options available all with private bathrooms.
In Summary: The Essential Travel Guide for Moalboal Beach Area in Cebu, Philippines
Moalboal is one of our absolute favourite destinations we have ever travelled to. The options for things to do are endless, the locals are smiley and friendly, the cost of a holiday here is relatively cheap, and there are a wide range of tasty food options available.
When our international borders open up again here in Australia, Moalboal will be one of our first destinations on our travels!
Have you been to Moalboal? What do like best about this village on the coast in Cebu? Leave a comment below.
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